6 Steps I Took To Turn a Lay off Into the Best Thing That Ever Happened in My Career

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Eva Steortz
Eva Steortz864
Disney Executive Turned Executive Coach

If you’ve been laid off, you’re in good company. Millions of people have lost their jobs as roles were eliminated during this pandemic and economic crisis. 

While we can’t control the corporate realities of economic downsizing, we can control how we respond.

It happened to me years ago. It was two weeks before my 20th anniversary at The Walt Disney Company. I had stellar performance reviews and had always given 100+% prioritizing work over my health and family. It felt like a breakup. I loved my company, but it didn’t love me back. 

Losing a dream job is a significant loss. Allow yourself to feel your way through all the stages of grief: bargaining, denial, anger, and anxiety. But try and move through them quickly so you can get to acceptance and embracing the possibilities of a new beginning. 

I am living proof that life can get even better after being laid off from your dream job. Know that you can get back into control and create the life you want to live. 

Here are six ways to stay positive, reconnect with your ultimate goals and aim even higher.

1. Refine your goals and life purpose.

Breathe. Dig deep. You now have the opportunity to think about what you want to do with your amazing life. Write down your key strengths. If you need support, ask others or take a Strengthsfinder test. The Values in Action Institute also offers a free survey to undercover your character strengths. 

We are most happy in life when we use our strengths. So, what are you good at and what does the world need? This cross-section is a good place to start when refining your goals and purpose.

2. Commit to new work-life balance priorities.

Take this chance to rebalance your priorities. I hadn’t admitted how much of my son’s life I was missing. I went a bit crazy trying to make up for lost time. I made homemade brownies and took Nico and his friends to In N Out Burger countless times. I also started doing yoga and enjoying super long walks with my dogs. I gardened and felt peaceful.  

It takes 21 days or to build a habit. Don’t miss this opportunity to commit to new self-care rituals, relationships and hobbies. 

You are getting another chance to build the happy, balanced life you deserve.

3. Do things you’ve always wanted to do but didn’t have the time for. 

While you should commit part of your day to job searching, you will have time to do some things that you weren’t able to while working. Have you wanted to learn a new skill, paint, write or get into better shape? 

I wrote a book to remember all of the great leadership lessons I learned at Disney. It helped me stay positive and productive. While it took many years, I did get it published. 

Whether it’s a big life goal or a passion hobby, use this extra time in a way that will make you proud to tell your story of how you were laid off and made the most of it.

4. Rally your relationships and broaden your network.

There’s a big, exciting world out there filled with fabulous people. While working, our circle is usually limited to the people we’re working with and our families. Take this time to reconnect with people you miss from your past. Don’t be shy. LinkedIn is for professional networking. Start making new friends with people in other dream companies doing jobs you would love to do. Try networking apps like LunchClub that match you with professionals with similar interests.

Networking is always a valuable use of time and how most jobs get filled. Remember, it’s relationships that make work and life much more enjoyable. 

5. Learn lots of new skills.

There are so many fun ways to learn these days. There are free YouTube videos and podcasts for every topic you ever wanted to explore. Apps like Babble make learning a language easy. LinkedIn offers free resources for career development. Interesting master classes taught by famous people are reasonably priced. 

You could get very ambitious and go back to school for a new degree or certification. I did at age 55 for Executive Coaching. Remember, you are never too old to learn new skills and evolve—or even reinvent yourself.

6. Aim even higher.

It’s normal to feel like you hit rock bottom when you get laid off. But know that you can and will bounce back. You can absolutely ascend higher. Leave some room in your heart. Believe that things can get better and they will. 

I’m living proof. After being laid off from Disney, I started consulting. Disney was my first client. I also worked with other studios plus toy companies. My experience and network expanded like I could have never dreamed. And I had a lot more freedom, flexibility and maintained my work-life balance priorities.

Getting laid off is one of life’s biggest challenges and yet an amazing chance to begin again even stronger. I hope these ideas inspire you to use this opportunity to its fullest. Have fun maximizing your career potential and creating the happy, balanced life you’ve always wanted to live.